VITAL plans for the regeneration of Teville Gate are facing yet further major delays of more than a year, which have been caused by planning complications and economic uncertainty.
Hanson Capital Management’s proposals for a £150 million pound mixed-use development was anticipated to bring up to 1000 badly-needed jobs to the area.
But its failure to start as planned last autumn has led to renewed fears that the proposals, which were first envisaged more than a decade ago, will be entirely mothballed – which developers have refuted. It had been scheduled to include more than 220 flats, a nine-screen cinema operated by the Vue chain, conference centre, hotel, and Sainsbury’s supermarket, which promised badly-needed investment in an area which has become an eyesore in the wake of the Comet store’s closure. There is now only one business operating from Teville Gate.
Despite its optimism, the Worthing Gateway project website has not been updated in three years, with its news section still stating “if planning permission is granted, work could begin in 2011 for a completion in 2014.”
But on its current rate of progress, the huge scheme, which could take 18 months to complete, will barely have even started by next year.
However, according to Worthing Borough Council’s planing department, there had been significant activity in relation to the proposals.
The project was originally granted planning permission in September, 2011, subject to completion of additional legal agreement for the payment of £2 million. This is to be put towards improving the environment surrounding the site and is set to be signed off this month.
But Liberal Democrat county councillor Bob Smytherman believed a major revision of the Teville Gate site is now required.
He called for “an end to the spin over the site” and urged the borough council to attempt to use its planning powers to re-direct the scheme to be focused on a more realistic housing scheme.
Tina Tilley, of Worthing and Adur Chamber of Commerce, said any further delays would be “disappointing”, but if that were the case, an interim use for the virtually vacant site should be considered.
In response, Bryan Turner, the council member responsible for regeneration, believed it “was best to be ambitious with such schemes” rather than opting merely for a housing development without any additional leisure facilities. He remained confident the project would be delivered, despite its latest setback.
A spokesman for the developer, Worthing Central Properties, a subsidiary company of Hanson Capital Management, conceded the economy had increased the challenges it faced.
He said: ‘This is an ambitious scheme which will bring huge, long-term benefits to Worthing.
“We are determined to make it happen and are working closely with the councils, our funding partners, our banks, prospective commercial tenants and other stakeholders to move the project towards delivery on site as soon as possible.”